Senior School students recently had the unique opportunity to learn from world-renowned Indigenous artist, Loretta Egan, as part of NAIDOC Week.
Loretta was Perth College’s Artist in Residence during NAIDOC Week and worked with students to create a magnificent canvas titled ‘Our Place’.
Born in Carnarvon, Loretta is a proud Yamatji woman who speaks the Wajarri language. She is based in Western Australia but her colourful, distinctive artworks are known internationally – one of her pieces was even presented to Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Perth!
With the help of students, and Aunty Beverley, the work of art depicts Perth College’s history on Whadjuk Boodja land.
Year 12 student Rebeka, who helped to paint the canvas, perfectly explained the details of the piece.
“It shows a bird’s eye view of the Swan River, known as Derbal Yerrigan in Nyoongar, and the snake, which is called a wagul, which guards and protects the river and its people,” she said.
“Above the river, you can see the city and Kings Park surrounded by everlastings, which are currently in season and flowering. At the very top is Perth College, surrounded by students.
“The dots represent grains of sand which were used to tell stories and pass down knowledge because our old people didn’t have pens or paper.
“You can see the waterholes and different campsites throughout the painting and, on the right, the green lines represent the hills with the coast on the left side.
“There are many animal and human tracks showing the travel of animals and Nyoongar people around the Perth region.”
Rebeka said she learnt a lot from Loretta’s week-long visit.
“I learnt a lot of little tips and tricks and she helped me with my Year 12 art piece,” she said.
Year 12 student Katie said being a part of the process helped connect her to her home in the state’s North West.
“Being a boarder, it felt like a sense of being at home – like during that time it was all inclusive,” she said.
“This year’s NAIDOC Week felt much more inclusive all round, it was really good.”
“As boarders, you feel more connected to this art,” Year 8 student, Jorjah, said.
“Hopefully next year they do even more to make NAIDOC Week better again,” Rebeka added.
Loretta was the second Artist in Residence sponsored by the Perth College Art Committee this year, following Tony Windberg’s collaboration with students in February.
The Artist in Residence programs for 2020 were funded by online sales from Perth College’s Virtual Fine Art exhibition.
Fine Art at Perth College was due to celebrate its 35th anniversary this year before it was cancelled due to COVID-19 – just four weeks before the scheduled Champagne Opening in April.
Rather than cancelling the event, the Art Committee decided to continue to support the local WA artists during such challenging times and quickly organised an online exhibition and sales – the first community-run exhibition to go online this year.
Artwork was sold through the Fine Art at Perth College website, with funds going towards the Artist in Residence programs, Senior School art camp and various art projects throughout the School.
Loretta’s completed artwork will be used to launch the newly revised Perth College Reconciliation Action Plan later this year.